Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Movie Night

When I worked as a live-in nanny while I was in college, I made a very common rookie nanny mistake. I was very passionate about a few children's movies, and I very much wanted to share those movies with A. and N. In retrospect, it's so clearly a "What was I thinking?" decision, as the kids were only 5 and 7 (at the oldest, they might have been 4 and 6). The first movie I showed them was The Labyrinth with Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. This is probably (although I don't admit to it in mixed company) my all time favorite movie, and basically, I ruined it for N forever. Although I associate that movie with sleep over parties and reciting all the lines with my best friends--she will always associate those goblins and other Henson creatures with dark thoughts and nightmares alone in her bed.

Now, has this scarred her for life? No, of course not. But I still kick myself for allowing my own enthusiasm to deprive her of what could have been a great movie viewing experience. It is, however, a lesson I learned fairly well (although, there was a Jumanji incident as well, but I'm not sure where it fell in time, it could have happened before I showed then The Labyrinth). When I wanted to show A. The Neverending Story I chose a night when N. was away on a sleep over, despite the fact that she's considerably older and probably could have handled it.

And when I pick movies to offer up to N. I do still tend to err on the side of caution. We've watched and loved some Hailey Mills movies that I adored as a kid like The Parent Trap and (my all time favorite Mills movie) The Trouble with Angels (a "habit" forming comedy for the whole family), and now that she's growing up she's a wonderful excuse to indulge myself in movies that watching on my own my involve a small sacrifice of pride, like The Princess Diaries

Now that I have a new set of guinea pigs in the G. children, I really hesitate before I bring a movie into work. I also wonder about what kind of balance should be struck between the classics, movies like The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and National Velvet, pop culture favorites from my own youth like The Muppet Movie and E.T. and the movies that are forming the cultural lexicon for Sam & Jill's own generation such as Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away and the fabulous Pixar films.

I think that perhaps the "correct balance" should change as they grow up. The emphasis should be more on classics when the kids are very young. They might not understand everything that's going on in, say, Oliver! when they're 4 years old, but those movies were created to be acceptable fare for all ages. Then, as they get older, it seems natural to want to share what you liked when you were their age. (I can't wait, for example, to show Sam Back to the Future.) And finally, one assumes that unless you're raising them as Jehovah's Witnesses, kids will start making their own decisions about the movies they want to see, based on what they hear at school and from friends.

Is it just me, or do other caregivers and parents feel a little jealousy over movies and other elements of pop culture that they don't get to share with their kids? I'm not saying this is a strong feeling for me, it's more of a twinge of regret that they place more importance on what is new and cool than on what I love and wish that they would love. But, this is, I suppose, as it should be.

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